Australia markets closed

China markets open higher on the last Monday of the year – Equity markets continued to rise rose Monday morning in Asia, starting a short New Year’s Day week strong after finishing the shortened Christmas week at multi-month highs.

On Friday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at its highest levels in five months while U.S. markets hit record highs.

Monday morning, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.70% by 10:46 PM ET (03:47GMT).

Mainland China markets were also trading higher. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.94%, the Shenzhen Component was up 0.86%.

In a push for growth and in the midst of the trade war between the U.S. and China, for which the signing of a phase one deal is expected in early January, China’s central bank announced during the weekend its loan prime rate (LPR) will become a new benchmark for current floating-rate loans.

“The purpose of the step is to make interest rates more market-driven and help lower financing costs,” Wen Bin, an economist at Minsheng Bank in Beijing told Reuters.

According to the People´s Bank of China, starting January 1 it will be prohibited for new floating-rate loan contracts to base their lending rates on the current benchmark, which has been unchanged since the third quarter of 2015 at 4.35% The LPR for one-year loans stands at 4.15%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 traded 0.61% lower after losing ground last Friday due to a number of stocks that traded without the value of the next dividend payment (ex-dividend).

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 slipped 0.55% during its last full day of trading in 2019, with markets there closing early on Tuesday for New Year´s Eve.

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